Review: Head Shot Victoria Nixon | @VictoriaNixon_ @annecater @Unbounders #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

A girl from a Yorkshire mining town is barely thirteen when her father kills himself – her brother finds him dying. At sixteen she’s spotted by a rock star and becomes an international Vogue model. Seven years later her brother kills himself in her New York apartment and her mother dies too. With no family left, her life is now one of extreme choices. Fifty years later, Victoria confronts her past and takes her readers on an unflinching voyage through her experiences as a model and beyond. Speaking frankly about loss, love, friendship and ambition, Head Shot is a book of inspiration and purpose. Packed with astonishing images by the photographers Victoria worked with, and the defiant fashions she wore throughout her career, it also bears witness to a time of unparalleled cultural energy and invention; it’s a story in which bags and shoes can, and do, sit right next to life and death.

 

My Thoughts

Head Shot is an incredible memoir; Victoria Nixon so honestly and openly looks back on her life and career. I finished reading this book a few days ago now and am still trying to find the words for this review.

My main reason for wanting to read this book was because the Victoria Nixon lost her mum at a similar age that I was when I lost my mum and I find myself drawn to books where people explore how they cope with losing their mother whilst in their 20s. The book that I got gave me what I was expecting but so much more besides.

Victoria Nixon takes us through how she came to be a model, you get to hear of the photographers she has worked with and other models she has got to know. I loved hearing about the stars of the day that she came into contact with – such as Brian Eno! There is no name-dropping in this book, all the stories Victoria shares feel a real part of her life story and so come up in an organic way. She never seemed to be affected by the showbiz life but seemed to just be enjoying her life and working hard to be a success.

It was heartbreaking to read of her father’s death when she was only a young teenager. I can’t imagine the pain of that and how it affects a person. Victoria shares her emotions and how it led to her life becoming what it did. I very much appreciated how sensitively and honestly she looks back at her father’s death, you can see how much she loved him. Sadly for Victoria she also lost her brother to suicide when she was in her 20s. This was an incredibly moving part of the book to read. The struggles Nick had had and the way his family had tried so hard to help him were very moving to read about. Victoria doesn’t shy away from discussing mental health in her book, she clearly cares very deeply about the subject.

The loss of her mother also when she was in her 20s was a shock for her and it changed how she felt about her life. I can really identify with this. I think when you’re very close to a parent and you lose them when you’re at a stage in life of being independent but also knowing that you can always go home if you need to, it’s very hard. I have such admiration for how Victoria dealt with her grief, and how she coped with all the pain life has thrown at her. She doesn’t dwell, she reflects on things but she always knew she had to pick herself up and keep going. I found her such an inspiring person to read about.

I very much enjoyed learning about the modelling industry in the 60s and 70s. I’m not really into fashion but it was fascinating to read about what it was like to be a model, and to hear about the not-so-glamourous side of things. Nixon is clearly a very driven and determined woman and she continued to push through during the difficult times. There are lighter moments throughout the book too, moments that will make you giggle and some stories that might make you raise an eyebrow.

There are photos throughout this book and I loved seeing them. They relate to stories Nixon has shared and it really brought the book to life. I love hearing the back story to an image and so this was a joy to have in this book.

Head Shot is such an incredible memoir! It’s a stunning and candid look back at a life that will leave you feeling inspired. Victoria Nixon’s passion and determination shines through and I’m so glad I got to read about her life. I loved this book so much, it’s one of the best memoirs I’ve read! I very highly recommend this!

Many thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours for my copy of this book and the blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

Head Shot is out now in hardback and available here. The ebook is due for release on 15 August and can be pre-ordered at the same link.

 

About the Author

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Victoria Nixon was eighteen when she was discovered by Helmut Newton, who photographed her for Vogue . This launched her international modelling career, which led to her being named the Daily Mail ’s ‘Face of 1968’.

After modelling, she went on to become an award-winning advertising copywriter, television producer and magazine editor. In the 1990s she opened the first deli in the UK to ban plastic packaging, and in 2002 her first book, ‘Supermodels’ Beauty Secrets‘ , was published, followed by ‘Supermodels’ Diet Secrets‘ in 2004. She is cofounder and managing director of a company which designs and manufactures humanitarian aid products used worldwide

Links-http://www.victorianixon.com/

Twitter @VictoriaNixon_

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

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#BookReview: The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui @AbramsBooks

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About the Book

An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam, from debut author Thi Bui.

This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.

At the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home.

In what Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen calls “a book to break your heart and heal it,” The Best We Could Do brings to life Thi Bui’s journey of understanding, and provides inspiration to all of those who search for a better future while longing for a simpler past.

My Thoughts

I requested this graphic memoir as I read a few of them last year and wanted to make sure I read more this year. This sounded interesting so I was pleased when I was approved.

I was expecting a graphic about a family’s experience of fleeing Vietnam to America and, whilst this book is about that, it’s also about so much more. It’s about three generations of a family and how their lives have been, how one generation affects the next. It looks at how it feels to be other, to move to a different country and feel that their ways are slowly changing you to be more like them. The way Ma looks out and sees all the streets around their house are named after American Presidents and feels it’s turning her more American and on the next page talks about a school shooting – I could feel how small and scared she felt.

This book is also very much about loss – not just loss of where you’re from, your culture, but also the loss of babies and that really got to me. The way the novel opens with a baby being born and then the reader is taken back over all the babies that Thi’s parents had, including the baby that died. It’s heartbreaking.

The baby being born as the book begins is a new grandchild for Ma, and she can’t bear being in the room with her daughter as she gives birth and her reason is that it brings the pain back. At first it seemed strange that she had given birth so many times and now couldn’t help her daughter, but then it dawns on you that the pain she can’t face, and the memories coming back are the ones of loss, the heartache – not just of her babies but of her homeland, and all the things she’s lost or had to leave behind in her life.

The book still resonates with the world we live in now, the way the family moved to San Diego from Vietnam to make a life for themselves but aren’t welcomed by everyone in the port city as people are still raw from what happened during the Vietnam war. The woman feels other, outcast, different. The family struggle to fit in, to make a life in America. The children feel the frustration of their father but are too young to understand where it comes from. They can’t comprehend the disappointment of their dad’s life – the way he has come to America to make a better life and now all he worked for in Vietnam, his degree etc, are worthless and unrecognised and so he comes to feel worthless and invisible.

This graphic memoir looks at the way political changes have a direct affect on the people who love there; it really highlights how the political is made personal. It also really makes you think about the way we see a photo and are led to believe that it’s the whole story but for the people involved, the people who live in a war-torn country it doesn’t show context or the whole story.

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An example of the art style in the book

‘I had no idea that the terror I felt was only the long shadow of his own…’

The book is about how the pain from one generation is revisited on the next. It’s about how we have to understand what came before, what happened to our parents and grandparents to grasp how they came to be how they are. It’s about finding tolerance and peace with the bad that has been done to us.

There is a lot of heartache in this memoir. It really brings home how everyone has their own story, and how an event that may have led to the best time of your life could have been the thing that took someone else away from what made them happy. It really gives you something to think about, the way that one decision can change everything and you can’t go back. When Ma and Bo met it was the best thing that happened to him, but for Ma, it took her away from her studies and she grew to resent that. Ma fell pregnant before marriage, so circumstance dictated that she marry Bo and she duly did, but then the baby died and Ma was already trapped in this marriage.

When Thi’s family finally, after so much planning and hardship, get to leave Vietnam it is on a crowded boat in the dead of night, they had no way of knowing what awaited them on the journey or whether they’d even make it. Ma was heavily pregnant at the time. It must have been terrifying – and it really made me think of the images we see on the news now of desperate people fleeing war-torn countries – knowing they risk their lives in cramped boats but also knowing that they can’t stay in their home land another day.

It was incredibly affecting when I read about what Thi refers to as the ‘refugee reflex’. The way that in a new country there is so much to learn but the biggest lesson she learnt as a child was to know where the folder of important documents was at all times, and to make sure you grab it in the event of leaving home in any kind of an emergency. To learn that when so young and to have that reflex stay with you, it’s heartbreaking to thing of living with that fear even when you have finally reached a place of safety.

The memoir gradually brings you back to the present day, where Thi has given birth in the hospital and it leads her to reflect on her relationship with her parents. She ponders on that moment when you realise that you’re not the centre of the universe, and that you can’t keep hanging on to resentment about your parents not being who you thought they were, or who you wanted them to be. People are who they are and Thi realises that you have to be okay with that. It becomes a little existential at the end as Thi wonders at the way we’re all joined to those who came before us, and I found this incredibly moving and humbling.

The images in this novel are so striking, they really fit the story being told and add to its impact. The colour palette is very muted with just black and white with an orange wash that is used in various ways throughout. It really is beautiful to look at.

I highly recommend reading this memoir. It’s one of those books that really stays with you for a long time after reading.

I received a copy of this book from the Abrams via NetGalley one exchange for an honest review.

#BookReview: Year of No Clutter by Eve O. Schaub

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About the Book:

From Hoarders to The Life- Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the question of what to do with all of our stuff seems to be on everyone’s mind. Eve Schaub’s new memoir is the tale of how one woman organized an entire room in her house that had been overtaken by pointless items. It’s also a deeply inspiring and frequently hilarious examination of why we keep stuff in the first place—and how to let it all go.

Eve O. Schaub graduated from Cornell and Rochester Institute of Technology. She has written for Vermont Life and Vermont Magazine, among others. During her family’s year of no sugar, Schaub blogged regularly and was often a guest on WAMC, New York’s NPR affiliate, as well as a regular visitor to Vermont Public Radio. She lives in Vermont with her family.

My Thoughts:

I requested this book from NetGalley because I can’t resist books about clutter, which is kind of ironic given that my natural tendency is to hoard stuff!

I have to be honest and say that the first couple of chapters of this book didn’t pull me in,  reading about someone’s room full of clutter that they know has a dead mouse in, and also that a cat has peed all over made me feel a bit squeamish. This isn’t the kind of clutter situation that I can identify with. I do tend to want to keep things but I’m also quite obsessive about cleaning.

I’m so glad that I decided to give the book another go through because from the point when Eve starts to explore what makes a hoarder, and what makes her the way she is I was fascinated and I could really identify with some of the things she discovered about herself.

There is a point where she writes that as a child she believed she had to keep everything so that she’d have enough stuff to fill her own home when she was grown up, and that is just how I was too. I kept all my childhood ornaments for years because I believed that shelves had to be filled with stuff. The idea that some people had empty surfaces in their home was alien to me. Eve’s father had a problem with clutter so she sees that her issues partly came from seeing what his house was like. My mum was very sentimental and could never get rid of things that people had given her, so I can see how Eve, and I, ended up being clutter bugs.

The part that really got to me was when Eve talks about her belief that if she lets go of things that she is sentimental about then she risks losing the memory of that particular point in time: that by holding on to the object, she has a trigger to bring back the memories instantly. I struggle with this too. It’s really hard when you get to an age where you’ve lost people who meant the world to you, how do you let go of the things they gave you? I felt Eve’s pain as she tried to work out which things to keep, and which to let go of.

Eve has an issue with making decisions, she really fears making a wrong choice and believes this feeds into her obsession with keeping things. This was eye-opening for me. I’ve always been indecisive but have never connected that to the way I keep things, but it makes total sense that if you really dread making a bad decision that you would find it hard to be confident in the things you get rid of. Eve gradually learns that it’s not the end of the world if you get rid of something and later wish you hadn’t, and that’s something I’ve learnt during my regular de-cluttering sessions. To be honest, I’ve agonised over some of the things I’ve being considering getting rid of but once they’re out of my house I’ve never regretted any of it. Objects might hold memories but they can’t bring a person back, it’s how you feel in your heart that matters.

One of the things Eve struggled with most was dealing with her paperwork. She couldn’t get rid of any of it without reading it first and then had to deal with whatever memory was attached before she could move on to the next lot of papers. It really struck a chord with me when Eve said: ‘… I keep souvenirs even of negative occurrences in my life, for fear that without them I would forget that event and even any lesson learnt from that event’. It sounds utterly ridiculous to keep paperwork from the worst moments of your life, but I used to be exactly the same. My mum kept some papers that were so painful to her but she felt she couldn’t ever shred them. When she died I took the papers for safe-keeping, and added some of my own from the year my mum was dying. I kept all of her hospital letters because I didn’t want to forget, and yet I was trying to hard not to drown in all the trauma that happened in that year. I moved in with my then new boyfriend (now my husband) the year my mum died and I took all the paperwork with me because I just couldn’t leave it behind – it felt like it was haunting me. Then one day I decided enough was enough. I burnt the lot and it was so therapeutic to let it go for both me, and my mum’s memory. I try to always remember now that the things we keep will one day be someone else’s problem to deal with and it helps me get rid of stuff that’s not really important in the grand scheme of things. Eve learns the same lesson in a different way. We can’t keep everything, we don’t have the room. So if you can only keep a fraction of the stuff, pick the good stuff, the happy stuff.

This isn’t a how-to book, it’s not about helping you clear your clutter. It is one woman’s open and honest journey through her own battle with clutter but in the process of reading you will probably recognise yourself in Eve, as I did, and it will spur you on to deal with your own clutter.

I highly recommend this book. Year of No Clutter is out now and available here.

I received a copy of this book from Sourcebooks via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:

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Serial memoirist Eve O. Schaub lives with her family in Vermont and enjoys performing experiments on them so she can write about it.

During 2011 Eve wrote a blog about her family’s attempt to live and eat for a year without any added sugar in their food, which became the book Year of No Sugar (Sourcebooks, 2014). She has been a guest on theDr. Oz Show, and FOX and Friends, and has appeared in numerous print and online outlets. She considers not hyperventilating on national television one of her greatest accomplishments.

Her upcoming book, Year of No Clutter, (March, 2017) reveals her deepest, darkest secret: clutter. In it, she details her struggle to transform herself from a self-described “clutter-gatherer” into a neat, organized person who can actually walk through every room of her house and does not feel the need to keep everything from childhood raincoats to cat fur. And yes, the family gets roped in on this one too.

Eve holds a BA and  BFA from Cornell University, and a MFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology. At various times she has been a newspaper reporter, magazine columnist, and copy writer. She likes to say that she has written for everything but the classifieds section, but in truth she did that too.

(Author bio taken from her website: EveSchaub.com)

#BookReview | Spider from Mars: My Life with David Bowie by Woody Woodmansey

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About the Book

In January 2016, the unexpected death of David Bowie rocked the globe. For millions of people, he was an icon celebrated for his music, his film and theatrical roles, and his trendsetting influence on fashion and gender norms. But no one from her inner circle has told the story of how David Jones—a young folksinger, dancer, and aspiring mime—became one of the most influential artists of our time.
Drummer Woody Woodmansey is the last surviving member of Bowie’s band The Spiders from Mars which helped launch his Ziggy Stardust persona and made David Bowie a sensation.
In this first memoir to follow Bowie’s passing, Spider from Mars reveals what it was like to be at the white-hot center of a star’s self-creation. With never-before-told stories and never-before-seen photographs, Woodmansey offers details of the album sessions for The Man Who Sold the World, Hunky Dory, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, and Aladdin Sane: the four albums that made Bowie a cult figure. And, as fame beckoned by eventually consumed Bowie, Woodmansey recalls the wild tours, eccentric characters, and rock ‘n’ roll excess that eventually drove the band apart.
A vivid and unique evocation of a transformative musical era and the enigmatic, visionary musician at the center of it, with a foreword by legendary music producer Tony Visconti and an afterword from Def Leppard’s Joe Elliot, Spider from Mars is for everyone who values David Bowie, by one of the people who knew him best.

My Thoughts

I couldn’t resist requesting this book when it was available on NetGalley. I’m a huge David Bowie fan and love every era of his including Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. Woody Woodmansey is from a place near where I’m originally from so I feel like I was aware of the Spiders from Mars from a really young age.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a real insight into Woody’s life and his time with the Spiders from Mars. It’s a candid look back over the years and it felt very open and honest. The way the Spiders came to be and how Woody end up a part of the band was really interesting. It’s obvious that there was a genuine camaraderie between the band and Bowie during their early days together, and I loved reading the stories. I enjoyed reading about David Bowie their recording process and how the songs came to be.

There are a lot of funny stories in this memoir too – the way the band felt when Bowie first suggested some of the more outrageous stage outfits is amusing. The ways they would wind each other up in the early days just shows how for a time they were just normal young men in a band trying to make it big. There is a real warmth in the way Woodmansey tells his story.

Bowie famously killed off Ziggy Stardust on stage at the Hammersmith Apollo on the last night of the tour, which came as a shock to the Spiders from Mars and Woodmansey gives his side of the story in this memoir. It obviously became quite tumultuous for everyone as David Bowie’s fame grew and the cracks began to show between him and the rest of the Spiders from Mars, which is plain to see was very painful for Woodmansey.

It’s incredibly moving to read about the deaths of members of the Spiders from Mars – Mick Ronson and later Trevor Bolder, and I hadn’t realised before that Woodmansey’s current band Holy Holy were on tour in America when the news broke that David Bowie had died. The chapter covering how he found out and his reflections on his friend were incredibly moving – it really did make me cry.

This memoir is about Woody Woodmansey looking back at his life and in particular his time in the Spiders from Mars, and David Bowie is a part of that but it’s very much Woodmansey’s life story. It’s another perspective on that incredible period of time in music. There are also some great photos in this book that I hadn’t seen before and I loved having the chance to see those.

After finishing the book I immediately had to listen to the albums from this period out of the Five Years vinyl boxset to really immerse myself, yet again, in the amazing music of David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars

I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley.

Spider from Mars: My Life with David Bowie is out now and available from all good book shops.

 

#BookReview: You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris

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About the Book

What matters most in life? How do you build a happy life when terrible things happen? What is left behind when you lose the person you love the most?

One night last winter, Antoine Leiris was at home looking after his son while his wife, Hélène, was at a concert with friends. Suddenly he started receiving text messages asking if he was ok. Turning on the TV, Antoine watched the terrorist attacks in Paris unfolding around him and tried to call Hélène. She didn’t answer. That night Hélène was killed, along with 88 other people, at the Bataclan Theatre.

Three days later, Antoine wrote an open letter to his wife’s killers on Facebook. He refused to be cowed or to let his 17-month-old son’s life be defined by their acts. ‘For as long as he lives, this little boy will insult you with his happiness and freedom,’ he wrote. Instantly, that short post caught fire and was shared thousands of times around the world.

You Will Not Have My Hate is an extraordinary and heartbreaking memoir about how Antoine, and his baby son Melvil, endured after Hélène’s murder. With courage, moral acuity, and absolute emotional honesty, he finds a way to answer the question, how can I go on? This is the rare and unforgettable testimony of a survivor, and a universal message of hope and resilience. This book is a guiding star for us all in perilous times.

My Thoughts

I recently heard Antoine Leiris being interviewed on the radio and knew right away that this was a book I wanted to read. I’m so pleased I was given the opportunity to read and review it.

This is an incredibly moving and powerful memoir about a man who lost his wife in the Bataclan during the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris just over a year ago. Antoine is very honest and straightforward about how he is feeling and how he is grieving, but he also keeps a lot back to be private for himself and his young son and I absolutely respect that.

This book stems from a poem that Antoine wrote days after the attack in which he refused to give the terrorists his hate, and he stays true to that throughout the book. The pain and heartache radiates from the page throughout this book, but there is a resoluteness in the writing that honours Antoine’s need to not give his hate. I shed tears whilst reading this book, and after finishing just had to sit quietly and reflect for a while.

I can’t even begin to imagine what Antoine has gone through and what he still has to face in the future. I was really moved by how he chose to allow others to do things that they felt were helpful, even though he didn’t wish for it to be done; yet ultimately it helped him in other ways than was expected when the help was given. It really gave me pause for thought.

This book is simply stunning and I recommend that everyone reads it. It’s one man’s journey through grief but it contains so many lessons for us all – not least in not allowing hate to define us.

I received this book from Harvill Secker via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Sky Lantern by Matt Mikalatos

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Sky Lantern is the story of a man who finds a sky lantern at the end of his driveway, and on picking it up to put it in the bin notices a message written on it. The message is from someone called Steph and she has written it to her father about how much she misses him. Matt can’t help but think and reflect about how his own young daughters would feel if he were no longer with them, and it leads to him writing an open letter to Steph on his blog in the hope that one day she, or even his own daughters, might find the letter and be comforted.

Matt’s open letter is very moving. He deliberately made it quite non-specific so that it would apply universally but he talks about how proud a father is of his daughter and how much he loved her. He gives life advice about finding those who love you and filling your life with them. He explains that he knows you miss your father and that you can’t replace him but that you have to keep moving forward. I was crying by this point in the book, my mum died a few years ago and it made me think of her because it’s the sort of letter that I know she would have written if she had had more time. Matt’s letter reminded me a little of Mary Schmich’s commencement speech (that was later turned into a song by Baz Luhrmann called Wear Sunscreen). It’s a life-affirming letter that everyone will be able to take something from even if not all of it relates to them.

Matt’s letter ended up around the world, he received many letters from people who weren’t Steph but who appreciated the letter all the same and found comfort in it. He received many letters from women who believed they were the Steph who sent the lantern but even while Matt wasn’t sure they were the right Steph, he still wrote back and showed real kindness and compassion.

Throughout this book, Matt learns lessons himself about not taking his loved ones for granted. He is obviously a lovely dad to his children, but as is the case with all of us, life gets busy and sometimes we brush off a loved one wanting a few minutes of our time. Matt’s book is a reminder to always tell the people we love that we love them.

If I was to be at all critical it would be to say that at times this book does feel a little drawn out; I’m not sure that there was enough to make a full-length book out of this experience. Having said that, it is a very moving and life-affirming read and I’m sure it will offer great comfort to people who have been bereaved. I cried over a chapter where Matt wrote about loss and how we make sense of it and how our lives can never be the same. It’s the silly thing of still picking up the phone to call a loved one who has been gone for a while but in that moment our brains forget for an instant until the phone is in our hand. I did this so many times after my mum died so it resonated greatly for me.

It is wonderful that a new friendship came from Matt finding the sky lantern, and that he helped not just one woman find solace but hundreds or even thousands of people who were comforted by reading his letter. This beautiful book really is a lesson to us all that showing a little more kindness to others can go a really long way.

I rated this book 4 out of 5.

I received this book from Howard Books via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Sky Lantern is out today and available from Amazon.

Bookish Memories – Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

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I first read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl in the school summer holidays when I was eight years old. My mum had been helping out a friend of hers who was disabled (mum used to go and help her clean the house, and she’d make her lunch and anything else she needed). So in the school holidays mum used to take my younger brother and me with her. We were allowed to take a couple of quiet toys with us (in my case books, obviously!) and we had to sit quietly in a room together while mum got her jobs done.

As I’ve said in my previous Bookish Memories post (Link here) my choice of books was never censored. On the condition that I looked after the books properly, I was allowed to choose any book I wanted from my parents’ study. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young girl caught my eye simply because it was the diary of a young girl and I was a young girl so there was no way I wasn’t going to want to read it. I had no concept of what the book was about at the time, I was only eight. My mum was happy for me to read the book and, as she always did when I picked up a grown-up book, she just made sure I knew I was to ask questions about anything I didn’t understand.

So, that summer I began to read about Anne Frank but my brother constantly got on my nerves making a noise in the room we’d been told to stay in so I wandered around this big house my mum was helping clean and I found the cloak room where all the coats and shoes were kept. I curled up on a big cushion and I read and read and read. I had no idea what was going to happen to Anne Frank and I remember being quite confused at the ending because it was so abrupt. I’d obviously not fully understood why Anne Frank and her family were hiding away in the attic in the first place. My mum did sit down with me later and she explained, so I did come to grasp what her family were hiding from and why Anne Frank died.

It’s a strange thing though because when I think back to that summer I just loved reading about Anne Frank. I found her funny and endearing; she seemed like a lovely girl who was really clever and I admired her. I could even identify with some of the things she said and the things she felt. I didn’t really understand that she was in fear for her life, I took the bits that were relevant to me and those are the bits I remember from that summer. This is why I think children should be allowed to read uncensored, because a child only takes away the things they can understand, relate to and process; everything else fades into the background.

I’ve re-read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl quite a few times since the summer I was eight. As I’ve got older and more widely read, I’ve obviously come to learn so much more about WW2. Reading about Anne Frank as an adult, with greater knowledge about what her family were hiding from, with a real awareness of the unrelenting fear they must have been feeling, I mainly feel heartbreak and anger at what she, and millions of others like her, went through. It’s all heightened by the overwhelming realisation of just how young Anne Frank was. Reading this as an eight year old, Anne Frank at thirteen seemed so much older and wiser than me. Reading it again as an adult, it is apparent that Anne Frank, although wise beyond her years in some respects, was just a very young girl who should have had a whole life in front of her.

This is still a book I treasure, it’s such an incredibly important book and one that everyone, children included, should read. The photo at the top of this post is the very copy of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl I read when I was eight. It’s more battered than I would like but it was my mum’s secondhand copy, so it’s a book that has obviously been read many times even before it came to be mine. It just never fails to amaze me how we can fall in love with books in different ways every time we re-read them, or how we come to discover new things about the books or even ourselves.

Please feel free to share some of your Bookish Memories in the comments below!

Review: Fragile and Perfectly Cracked by Sophie Wyndham

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Fragile and Perfectly Cracked is a memoir of a woman’s journey through her struggle to conceive focusing a lot on her miscarriages and how they left her feeling. The book is written in such a way that at times it felt almost like a stream of conscious-style of writing, that Sophie has spilled all of her pain and emotions out onto the page. Other times there is more structure but the combination made the writing feel much more heart-felt and real.

The over-riding thing that comes across in this book is Sophie’s honesty about what she has experienced, she never shied away from sharing her pain or from sharing exactly what it is like to lose a baby – from both a physical and an emotional standpoint.

Sophie really helps the reader to understand that miscarriage can leave women feeling very real grief for the baby they have lost, even when it happened in the early stages of pregnancy, and I think this is a very important issue to raise. Too often the grief following miscarriage is swept under the carpet so Sophie’s writing feels very refreshing.

This book ultimately leaves the reader with hope as Sophie gets her happy ending. (Please note this is not a spoiler, the reader discovers this on the first page). It is good the book starts by telling the reader the ultimate outcome as it means that as heartbreaking as the book is to read a lot of the time, the reader knows while reading about such intense emotional pain that Sophie wasn’t left struggling with the emotional pain of child loss.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has suffered a miscarriage and wants to feel less alone in what she has experienced. I think it would be a good book for men to read too as it gives a real insight into what a woman goes through during miscarriage and into all the complex emotions that go with the harrowing experience.

I rate this book 4 of 5 stars.

I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Fragile and Perfectly Cracked by Sophie Wyndham is out now and available here: http://amzn.to/1KarhmZ